When buying Helianthus remember that if the stems are bent and the heads are facing downwards they will usually stay in this position so try to select those with front-facing heads to create attractive displays. The large-headed variety look wonderful in bright table centrepieces. Choose a well-balanced vase with a wide base and mix the Helianthus with other robust flowers such as Carthamus, Eremurus and Solidago.
Gypsophila (baby’s breath)
Gypsophila is at its best in summer. It is vital to buy fresh flowers as older flowers that have not had their water changed regularly smell unpleasant. You can also try squeezing a flower, if it does not bounce back it is of a poorer quality. The delicate Gypsophila looks delightful mixed with other white flowers in single vases and bouquets or on its own in charming floral crowns for the bride or bridesmaids.
Until recently Cosmos was difficult to buy commercially as it does not travel well, however small farms in the UK are now growing and selling it locally. When buying check that all the petals are intact as they will drop within a few days. Available in orange, pink, brown and red, Cosmos look wonderful in small bridesmaid bouquets or placed in jam jars for a vintage look.
Dianthus (spray carnation)
Spray Dianthus is a long lasting flower so buy in sufficient time to ensure that the buds open. Check that the calyx, which surrounds the flower, is green and not brown, marked or split. These pretty and often fragrant flowers are perfect for floral crowns or combined in vases with foliage such as Ruscus or Pittosporum to hide their knobbly stems.